RGWCD opposes export proposal

ALAMOSA — The Rio Grande Water Conservation District (RGWCD) Board of Directors on Tuesday passed a resolution opposing a proposal from Renewable Water Resources to export water from the Rio Grande Basin.

This is the first official action that the board has taken on the matter in the wake of many questions from the San Luis Valley water community. The resolution refers to the proposal as a “direct threat” to the citizens, economy, culture, and well being of the San Luis Valley.

Some members of the board expressed concern over the protection of private property and water rights. RGWCD attorney David Robbins who was present via phone noted that the resolution doesn’t challenge an individual’s right to sell their water. He pointed out that the resolution does challenge, “whether or not water should leave the basin.” Robbins also referred back to the RGWCD mission, which is to “enhance and protect the water rights of the citizens of the San Luis Valley who reside within the boundaries of the district.”

Director Peggy Godfrey noted that the northern portion of the Valley simply does not have the water that would be needed for such a large proposal. She also pointed out that more than 300 pivots would have to be taken out of operation just to begin meeting demand.

Board President Greg Higel said, “I’m not into export.”

Numbers given earlier in the meeting by Allen Davey and Clinton Phillips of Davis Engineering showing a clear decline in aquifer and well levels seemed to strengthen the case against the proposal. There was little overall discussion, as the board seemed to be in general agreement on the matter.

Director Lewis Entz made the motion to adopt the resolution and was seconded by Bill McClure. The motion passed with one opposing vote from Cory Off who later wanted to change his vote to a “yes.” The district will now begin the process of formulating a strategy to support the resolution.